New to Wheels Car of the Year?
Read the COTY 101.
Talk about covering all bases. Rather than dipping a toe into the electrified segment, Hyundai has gone all out with a three-pronged attack designed to simultaneously take on the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf in one, low-CO2 strike.
In its most basic form, the $32,990 Hybrid easily undercuts Prius on price, while pairing a 77kW 1.6-litre engine with a 32kW motor for modest performance and an official economy rating of 3.4L/100km.
Step up to the Plug-in Hybrid and it’s the same 1.6 combo, but with more electrons, courtesy of a larger 8.9kWh lithium-ion battery and 45kW motor. Up to 50km of all-electric range is on offer before unleaded is burned. However accelerating with any gusto sees the Plug-in rely on its petrol engine, which detracts from its tree-hugging appeal.
For those wanting the full clean-and-green flavour, the Ioniq Electric fits the bill, teaming a 28kWh battery with an 88kW electric motor to provide a near-instant 295Nm wallop. The claimed 280km range is acceptable, and functionality, such as the ability to adjust the level of regenerative braking via the paddle shifters, is well thought out.
Venture beyond the drivetrains and the Ioniq’s spark begins to fizzle. Dynamics are acceptable rather than engaging. Accurate steering allows a degree of adjustability, but mediocrity prevails over all. The 16-inch tyres on the Plug-in and Electric give up relatively early and road roar is a black mark in an otherwise quiet cabin.
Judges were impressed with the Ioniq’s normality and the space and practicality offered by its swoopy (yet already dated) body. The fact that aluminium is used in its suspension components shows an effort to keep kilos to a minimum, all in a quest to further reduce your environmental footprint. The lack of an ICE makes the Electric Ioniq the lightest despite its generous equipment list, which includes AEB.
Delve deeper, though, and the first-round knockout bell rings, especially inside, where it’s more 1999 than 2019. The plastics are drab, all but the Electric have a foot-operated park brake, and the leather in Premium-spec cars (which are priced $4000-$5000 over the entry-level Elites) has an air of vinyl about it.
Overseas first drive: 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric review
None of which detracts from the Ioniq’s CO2-reducing game. Had it arrived at the COTY party in 2016, when it was released in Korea, its round-two prospects would have been brighter. As it is, the many positives don’t make it COTY gold material in 2019, especially now the EV train is off and running.